Part 4: What Should My 12 Leadership Ratios Be?

by Sam on September 13, 2011

Chase two hares and get none. ~Japanese Proverb

For many of these ratios you’ll want to be 100% on both, but that can’t happen. The present realities of your leadership situation and your leadership personality are what will dictate the best way for you to lean on each one. And you’ll continually tweak your emphasis according to the spirit of the times. “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

1. Internal vs. External

2. Control vs. Trust

3. Process vs. Product

4. Strong vs. Facilitative

5. Failure Focus vs. Success Spotlight

6. Stars vs. Team

7. Critical vs. Supportive

8. Doing vs. Leading

9. Achievable vs. Improbable

10. Results vs. Visionary. You’re wearing your results uniform when pressured to get as much good product out the door in as short a time as possible. The burden to trumpet outcomes may come from inside of you—from your own ambition and drive. More often it is traced to requirements saddled on you by higher ups or stakeholders. By contrast, the visionary you is the leader willing to downplay short-term results when needed in order to realize a long-term vision. Even if you’re not going to be around to see that big idea materialize you’re prepared to allocate resources in that direction.

“Deep” Insight: One thing that distinguishes leaders from followers is that followers look to leaders to cast vision. It is the only non-delegatable leadership responsibility. So if leaders aren’t focused on the long-term, neither will anyone else be. Great leaders have figured out how to balance the demands to show gain today with ensuring that there will be gain tomorrow and the day after.

11. Competence vs. Compliance. This ratio applies most apparently to the human resources function. When HR is active in recruiting and selecting the best and brightest, in employee training and development, and in winning employee engagement it is focused on building competence. When it advises management how to comply with personnel laws and ensures that the performance management system protects the company regarding at-will employment, the spotlight is on compliance.

“Deep” Insight: HR is at it’s best when the competence/compliance ratio is at least 75/25, if not higher. Looking to recruit a new HR executive? Hire for competence. Get that person legal help for the rest. Never allow compliance to overwhelm HR. One way to ensure that competence is the driver is to bring HR to the corporate strategy table reporting directly to the CEO rather to the CFO, CIO, or CLO, where it is often found.

12. Permission vs. Forgiveness. Sometimes you seek permission from higher ups before proceeding with a new idea not yet approved or making a decision for which guidance has not been received. That’s often the way to go. Other times, there’s no opportunity to get such authorization. There are even times when you believe that because of misunderstanding or weak leadership, approval for the right thing to do will not be forthcoming. In these cases you might accept that you’ll seek forgiveness after you act.

“Deep” Insight: On June 6, 1944 Brigadier General Teddy Roosevelt, Jr. learned that his troops had been landed at the wrong place on Utah Beach. He had two choices. Call his commanding officer to get new orders, or do what he did. He told his men, “We’ll start the war right here” and they stormed the slopes. You may not earn the Medal of Honor—he did—for moving on regardless of the consequences, but you’ll be assured that you’ve done the right thing.

Breakthrough! Now that all twelve ratios are revealed, which is the one that the people who count on you the most need you to change? If you’re not sure, how will you find out? Perhaps you’ll show them the twelve as a basis for giving you feedback.

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